The Community Foundation of Singapore spreads greater love through effective use of charitable gifts

Catherine Loh CEO of CFS

Catherine Loh, the CEO of the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS), recently spoke to Lianhe Zaobao to share more about the work the organisation is doing. CFS has over 13 years of expertise in philanthropy advisory, fund administration and grantmaking and has been recognised for its commitment to transparency and governance. Hence donors can be confident that their grants will help meet the evolving needs of the community – now and into the future.  

As shared by Ms Catherine Loh, the CEO of CFS: “With falling birth rates and a rising elderly population, philanthropy can focus more on the elderly in the coming years. While the government take cares of the basic needs, there is much that the general public can do to improve the quality of life of the elderly, give them dignity and allow them to have a meaningful and active third age. 

In the area of education, in addition to the young, we should also be helping adult learners who need additional support as they re-train due to disruptions brought on by rapidly changing technology.” 

Catherine Loh also shared that, following last year’s outpour of generosity, CFS saw how much Singaporeans care about others – supporting programmes relating to the disadvantaged, education, health and more. The Sayang Sayang Fund, established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn over S$9 million in donations from 5,185 individual and corporate donors, helping an estimated 136,000 individuals across Singapore.  

Since its establishment, CFS has collected a total of 192 million, distributing more than 114 million dollars in grants and is currently managing a total of 162 charitable funds. As a charitable organization, CFS helps individuals and corporates set up and manage their own donor-advised funds, supporting causes which they are passionate about.   

Building on the momentum of the launch of the Legacy Giving Initiative and “A Greater Gift” campaign, CFS is focusing on growing knowledge of legacy giving and the value of gifts to charity. A poll – conducted by CFS and NVPC between April and July last year with survey firm Toluna – found that 6 in 10 agree that everyone can make a legacy gift. Going forward, CFS will focus on highlighting ways of making gifts, as well as encouraging and enabling philanthropy conversations – whether at dinner tables or in office settings. 

CFS recognise that, while there is awareness, more information is needed to help individuals make informed decisions. CFS actively reaches out to legal and financial professional advisors, to share about the donor-advised fund as a modern tool for planning philanthropy. It is our hope that professional advisors will more frequently include charitable giving in conversations about wealth planning with clients.  

One example of CFS’s donor-advised fund would be the SR Nathan Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF), which has distributed millions of dollars to bursaries, scholarships and various financial assistance programmes, to support financially disadvantaged students to smoothly advance to higher education. 

The late former Singapore President S R Nathan established the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund (SRNEUF) which supports financially disadvantaged students to smoothly advance to higher education.

As shared by Mr Bobby Chin, Chairman of the Grant Advisory Committee of the S R Nathan Education Upliftment Fund: “President Nathan’s life epitomises the spirit of generosity, caring and giving. He was a tireless giver. Known to come from humble beginnings himself, he was always known to have a heart for the less privileged in society. 

As we celebrate the Fund’s 10th anniversary, we are happy to share that the SRNEUF has disbursed over $3.7 million to support ITE, polytechnic and university students through awards, bursaries, scholarships as well as monthly financial assistance.” 

The other example is the Dr. Lim Boon Tiong Foundation which donated 24 million dollars from his estate, to assist elderly and terminal patients, and fund cancer research. Working as a doctor till the age of 80, Dr Lim’s medical background and life experiences shaped his interest in helping the elderly and those suffering from urological conditions. After he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his 70s, Dr Lim became interested in supporting urological cancer research.  

The late Dr and Mrs Joseph Lim Boon Tiong. Dr Lim Boon Tiong (right) was passionate in helping the venerable elderly communities as well as supporting urological cancer research.

His daughter Sylvia revealed that her father was frustrated because he was unable to help her grandfather who also had prostate issues. When he became ill himself, he wanted more research in this area to benefit future generations. 

Dr Lim passed away prior to the establishment of the fund, leaving his wishes to be executed by his adult children.  

In 2018, his daughters Sylvia and Ivy set up the Dr Lim Boon Tiong Foundation, a donor-advised fund with CFS – with a gift of $24 million supporting causes that Dr Lim was passionate about. 

CFS worked with them to identify and support projects such as the Dr Joseph Lim Boon Tiong Urology Cancer Research Initiative at the National University of Singapore (NUH), Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) and Assisi Hospice. 

This translated article was originally published by Lianhe Zaobao.  

Credit: Lianhe Zaobao © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.  

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